On the first day of 1989, I was born in northern China. Like all families around, mine was a normal atheistic family. I never met a Christian till I came to Europe. The political atmosphere overwhelms every corner in my country. No matter what you study, from primary school to college, Marxism, Leninism, Maoism and Deng’s Theory are compulsory courses that make up almost twenty percent of one’s learning. Every night from 7 o’clock, all the radios and TV stations are required to broadcast the News of CCTV (China Central Television).
We have no God. The place of God in the hearts of the old generation, instead, was the dream world of Communism or Chairman Mao. For us, the young generation, we generally believe in science, the theory of evolution, and materialism. Consequently, we adore and fight for materiality. Although we were indoctrinated to believe that Western people are suffering under Imperialism, we admired their rich material life. And the large amount of western cultural input made this young generation excited and curious about the western world. The largest input is the movie industry from United States, especially after the Internet emerged. The terms submerged in the violent and erotic scenes, like “OMG” or “Jesus” made us think that the United States was still a Christian country. This was the ground where I grew up in my first twenty years of life.
Being a Christian was never part of my life plan. I used to have many plans, from big ones of studying abroad and establishing the career to the small ones of dawdling with girls in clubs. But I never planned to be a Christian, not even in my dreams. After moving to Italy, I came in touch with Christianity for the first time. I didn’t reject everything about it, but looked down on it as something inferior. My belief was pretty much like Immanuel Kant: Christianity, like other religions, has a positive effect indeed to the personal morality and social mood, but unfortunately it cannot be tested by the science and human rationality. So I respected religious people, but, as an evolved human being, I disdained to believe any religion. The Bible says: “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” What I thought was just the opposite: “the heavens and earth mock and deny God.” When I recall it today, it was such a transgression. I used to resist him, thinking that I had no faults and he has no right to judge me. But he let me realize that I was always sinning against him and that there are much more terrible faults than the lack of secular ethics and morality. I cannot understand how God has such mercy to send his only Son to die for me, a son of disobedience.
In the following months, I read some books such as Evidence that Demands a Verdict, which were very helpful. Unexpectedly, I sank into a strange state that I could speak in ‘defense’ of Christianity but was not able to believe in heart. When I talked with friends about the gospel and Christ, they would ask me “Do you believe?” “No, I don’t.” “Then what is wrong with you? Don’t you have anything else to do?” At that time, my soul was in darkness and pain, of which nobody was aware. The fight between my brain and heart drove me crazy. Later on, I started to awkwardly read the Bible with many ridiculous questions. Nevertheless the seed of the gospel was sown by the Word of God itself. After a couple of months, God called me to himself in a Gospel Camp in Rome. In summer of the same year, I was baptized into Christ.
Not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans2:4
By the grace of God, I always had time to read. I was fed with reformed theology at the very beginning of my spiritual life in Christ. Some basic theological foundations were set up by listening to the sermons of some reformed pastors online. Some books of Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin, afterwards, another book named The Legacy of Sovereign Joy written by John Piper helped me connect the theological thoughts of Augustine and Calvin and recognize reformed theology. Later, I visited some non-reformed churches to ‘explore’. My experience in these churches helped me realize the essentiality of the Word of God, both the Law and the Gospel. There may be good people and good friends in a church, but what makes a church a true church is the Word of God. Otherwise we become a restaurant, a firm or a club.
During that time, however, I thought all faults belonged to others. I was blind to my own sins. Thanks be to the Lord whose provision from past saints woke me up. The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson, the third volume of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, and other material made me find out that the reformed people treat the Law of God, sin, and repentance in a very honest and brave way. This helped me to understand that God’s kindness is meant to lead me to repentance (Romans2:4). In the following months, God pulled me out of my sins. Our God is faithful and just and he will forgive our sins and clean us from all unrighteousness (1 John1:9). These are not just written words on paper, this is the living Word which is at work in our lives.
Because of God’s forgiveness, I determined that with my mouth I will make known his faithfulness to all generations (Psalms89:1). The message of repentance and forgiveness is not popular on the stage of most churches today. People are selling health and wealth instead. But the only comfort for the real sons of God is the message of repentance and forgiveness in Christ. Without Christ preached, all things in the Scripture become moral stories which are dry and astringent. I was the deer panting for flowing streams, panting for the flowing Word of God.
…Opening of the prison to those who are bound. Isaiah61:1
Therefore, I committed myself to reformed theology and to look for Reformed churches, which seemed impossible to find in Italy. With man it is impossible, but not with God (Mark10:27). In the wonderful grace and guidance of God, I found CERF (Chiesa Evangelica Riformata ‘Filadelfia’), and made contact with Pastor Andrea Ferrari. I can never forget the crying joy from the heart of this liberated captive. The non-Christ-preaching churches are prisons of souls. Not until the Word of God is preached to faint people that the oil of gladness will be given instead of mourning (Isaiah61). And I see that the good news must be brought to the poor. At CERF, this poor man finally heard the good news of God. And I am very glad to bring people here to let them hear the gospel every week. Moreover, through studying catechism and doctrine, we are planting our faith in confessional soil.